Courts & Crime

Anatomy of Scott Roeder's path to George Tiller's murder

Editor's note: This story was compiled through testimony in the trial of Scott Roeder last week in Sedgwick County District Court. It includes Roeder's testimony, in which he stated his beliefs and how he felt at certain stages. It also includes information from past interviews with George Tiller and members of Roeder's family.

Scott Roeder watched television in his motel room at the Garden Inn, trying to relax.

Roeder was frustrated, having made his latest trip to Wichita, and to Reformation Lutheran Church. This time, the Saturday evening service was in Swahili. The young women wearing short skirts had offended him. On top of all that, the reason he'd been going to the church wasn't there. Again.

The 51-year-old had been attending the church off and one for the previous nine months, about the same time it takes a woman to carry a pregnancy to term. That was the reason Roeder was there — not to pray and worship but because of all the babies that weren't being born in Wichita.

To Roeder, that was George Tiller's fault. Tiller was the reason Roeder had been driving to Wichita and sitting in the back of Reformation Lutheran for months, if not years. Tiller went to that church. He also ran a clinic called Women's Health Care Services. Among the services women received there was terminating their pregnancies. Sometimes, Roeder learned, those pregnancies were terminated in their ninth month.

Roeder had made the decision years before, but over the past year he'd taken steps to plan his mission.

George Tiller, Roeder believed, had to die.

That night, on May 30, Roeder fell asleep at the Garden Inn, hoping the next morning, Pentecost Sunday, would provide him with the opportunity to carry out his plan.

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